Spaceshuttle Discovery Missão STS-119


23 Jan 2007
Anteontem o Discovery partiu para mais uma missão no espaço, a STS-119. O principal objectivo desta missão é a de colocar na ISS o Integrated Truss Segment (S6). Já agora, a ISS após levar mais estes módulos ficará ainda mais brilhante para ver à noite em passagens favoráveis.

Depois do acidente do Columbia, todos os lançamentos são gravados em vídeo com câmaras de alta resolução para visionamento posterior em busca de algum pedaço de espuma ou outro coisa que se tenha soltado e possa ter danificado algo. Desta vez quando os engenheiros vasculhavam as imagens à procura de algo anormal, descobriram algo diferente. Um morcego desesperadamente agarrado ao spaceshuttle à medida que este ia acelerando para o Espaço.

Será que alimentava o sonho de ser o primeiro Morcego no espaço e queria apanhar boleia ? :D


Did Bat Hitch a Ride to Space?

The bat, seen clinging to the external fuel tank of the Space Shuttle Discovery before its launch on Sunday, apparently clung for dear life to the side of the tank as the spaceship lifted off.

And what a ride.

The shuttle accelerates to an orbital velocity of 17,500 milers per hour, which is 25 times faster than the speed of sound, in just over eight minutes. That's zero to 100 mph in 10 seconds.

Did it make it into space? No one knows yet. But photos of Discovery as it cleared the launch tower showed a tiny speck on the side of the tank. When those photos were blown up, it became apparent that the speck was a bat.

Flight director Paul Dye said no one has seen the bat since.

"I heard that it was clinging to the tank at liftoff, but I don't think anyone has seen it since," he said.

Launch controllers spotted the bat after it had clawed onto the foam of the external tank as Discovery stood at Cape Canaveral's Launch Pad 39A.

The temperature never dropped below 60 degrees at that part of the tank, and infrared cameras showed that the bat was 70 degrees through the launch.

The final inspection team that surveys the outside of the shuttle and tank for signs of ice buildup hoped the bat would wake up and fly away before the shuttle engines ignited.

The bat is the one goofy moment in a mission that has been flawless so far -- at least after a few gliches forced the launch to be postponed.

STS 119 was delayed repeatedly while engineers struggled with hydrogen fuel control valves, and later, a hydrogen fuel leak, but the launch Sunday was flawless and the mission so far is going as planned.

Discovery docked to the International Space Station and later this week will install the final truss and solar arrays to give the orbiting lab more power, which will allow the crew to expand from three to six.


23 Jan 2007
A ISS e o Discovery fotografados a partir da Terra.



Ralf Vandebergh(250mm Newton)

subject: 2009/03/20_ISS with new S6 truss and arrays
The backbone of the ISS is complete now with the attachement of the new S6 truss segment
which was carried to the station by the spaceshuttle Discovery at STS-119.
Already visible in this view from March 20 are the fully deployed S6 solar arrays.The deployment
was completed just a few hours before the pass.
Also as sign of the S6 truss element itself is visible.Images will in future certainly show nicer views of
the solar arrays,the position to the observer wasn't optimal in this image.Also I chose for
a frame showing als the shuttle with open payload bay doors clearly.Another nice detail is
the Canadarm 2.
Imaging details as always: 10inch Newtonian manually tracked using a 6x30 viewfinder.

Shuttle and station imaged from the ground!

In honor of the Shuttle Discovery undocking from the ISS today (scheduled for 15:53 Eastern time), I present to you Ralf Vandebergh, who is a very skilled astrophotographer. How skilled? Yeah, this skilled:


That shot, taken on March 20, shows the Space Shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station… taken from the ground. Vandebergh used a 25 cm telescope with a video camera to get this shot; he tracked the telescope by hand using an ordinary finder ’scope mounted on the side.

Although the image is fuzzy — the placement of the Shuttle and ISS in the sky wasn’t optimal — the detail is incredible. I found a diagram on the NASA site with a drawing of the Shuttle docked to the ISS. Though it’s not perfect, the angles approximate what Vandebergh got, and you can identify structures:

retty cool, eh? You can see the back end of Discovery poking out from under the station (the payload bay doors are open), as well as ISS solar panels and other features, too.

At first glance getting a shot this clear might seem impossible, but in fact the math backs it up. The ISS orbits at 350 km over the surface of the Earth. Let’s say it’s straight overhead, so it’s as close (and therefore as big) as it can get. The wingspan of the ISS is a little over 100 yards. Doing the math*, I get that the station would be about 1 arcminute in size, or about 1/60th of a degree (for comparison, the Moon is 0.5 degrees across). That’s interesting; the resolution of the human eye is about an arcminute! So when it’s directly overhead, people with keen eyesight will just be able to see the station is not just a dot, but has an actual shape.

I didn’t know that. Wow. Through binoculars it’ll be very cool to see. I’ll have to try that.

Anyway, through a decent telescope — and Vandebergh’s 25 cm Newtonian is definitely a good sized ’scope — you can actually get a good shot of the station. Usually, though, atmospheric turbulence blurs out the picture (which is also why stars twinkle). The trick is to use a video camera: that takes many frames rapidly, hopefully cutting down on the blurring in the same way that a fast exposure of a race car is sharp, while a longer one is blurry.

In fact, you can do even better. The blurring changes not only in time but in space as well. So in a given frame, the starboard solar panels might be sharp, but the port panels blurred. You can take multiple frames from the video and stitch them together, taking only the best parts and deleting the worst. I’ve seen some incredibly detailed images of the Shuttle and ISS taken from the ground; try a Google search and you’ll see plenty.

In fact, astrophotographer Vincent Miu shot this same ISS+Shuttle configuration just this week as well, and last year, the ISS was caught passing Venus in the sky during the day. I imagine anyone with a good ’scope and a video camera mounted to it can get this sort of thing. That seems incredible to me, but such is they way astronomy has been transformed in the modern era.

Don’t forget, you can see the ISS easily with the naked eye (it can now get brighter than Venus, thanks to the new solar panels). Check out Heavens Above to see when it’s overhead! As soon as it clears up here in Boulder I’ll be out with my own binocs. I trust the math, but it always helps to verify.